Bevin predicts close time trial battle with deeper field and shorter course



Vantage Cycling New Zealand star Patrick Bevin believes tomorrow’s men’s time trial is shaping up as one of the closest battles in years on the second day of the UCI Road World Championships in Italy.


Patrick Bevin in action on his way to fourth placing at the world championships in Yorkshire in 2019. (Photo: Robert Jones)

The Team CCC World Tour rider believes weather conditions, the shorter course and the depth of the competition will provide the backdrop to a highly anticipated race in Imola near Bologna.


The men will compete over the same 31.7km course that the women rode today, where they battled strong headwinds to the turn, big tailwinds home with some lumps that made for a significant challenge.


Bevin, fourth last year in Yorkshire which was the best ever effort from a New Zealand male rider, believes the leading 12 riders could all be within a minute judging by what he saw in the women’s race.


“Both of the fields for the women and the men are much deeper than would normally be, but that is what you get when it is run in the middle of the season,” said Bevin.


“For us, it is considerably shorter than would usually be the case and that brings into play a lot of riders who would normally not match the specialists over a longer distance.


“The forecast is for stronger winds tomorrow and the key will be how you can stick to the pacing plan. You can only ride so fast with a tail wind coming back. So, it essentially makes the first half of the course with a head wind really important. You are riding a 37 or 38 minute effort and the first 25km have to be well above pace. “


Bevin said thoughts of a dead-flat course were exaggerated.


“It is not as flat as everyone is saying. It is deceptively hard. I’ve ridden it six or seven times this week and there are some small up-and-down sections along the side of the valley. It is not quite so straight forward.


“In the last few years, we have had some biggish time gaps but here I reckon there might be 12 riders or more within a minute and may be six or eight inside 30 seconds.”


While he has been focussing on the time trial for the last few weeks, the length of the course, weather conditions and strength of field make it difficult to predict as he chases his third straight top-10 finish.


“It is a time trial. Your result is your result and you take it on the chin. The course is shorter and the field is deeper. Putting a number on it won’t change your plan or what you are capable of. You have to go out and ride to the limit and when the dust settles you will see what it brings.”


Bevin is eighth to last rider from 57 starters where Australian Rohan Dennis is the defending champion. Other major chances include the 2019 bronze medallist and four-time pursuit world champion Filippo Ganna (ITA), 2017 world champion Tom Dumoulin (NED), track and team time trial world champion Stefan Kung (SUI) and three-time cyclocross world champion Wout van Aert (BEL).


New Zealand is also represented by Nelson teenager Finn Fisher-Black, who rides for the Jumbo Visma Development team and has been turning heads in Europe this season.


With no junior or under-23 classes racing this year, dispensation has been given to some younger riders who can compete without blocking a return to their designated age category in the future.


Fisher-Black, who will ride in support for the men’s road race on Monday, is the New Zealand Junior time trial champion and the junior world record holder for the individual pursuit on the track.


His sister Niamh will line up in the women’s road race on Sunday.